Lea Valley Developments Ltd v Derbyshire, decision of Adrian Williamson QC (substantive issues)
Citation:  WLR(D) 414,  EWHC 1353 (TCC),  4 WLR 120
Works were carried out on Lea Valley Developments’ property which caused such extensive damage to Mr Derbyshire’s neighbouring flats that they could not be economically repaired, but should be demolished and rebuilt. Following the decision by O’Farrell J that the court should exercise its inherent jurisdiction, the issue between the parties was whether any compensation payable to Mr Thomas should be assessed by reference to the diminution of value of the property, or the greater cost of reinstatement.
Adrian Williamson QC (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) did not agree that the Award authorising the works was determinative of the issue: it only referred to Lea Valley Developments “making good” any repairs, which was significantly different from demolishing and rebuilding the flats. In reaching that conclusion, Adrian Williamson QC also explained that any question of approbation thereby became academic.
Turning to the compensation provisions set out in the Party Wall etc Act 1996, the court accepted that the common law principles relevant to the assessment of damages should apply (not least due to the similarity of situations covered by the Act and situations involving nuisance). Adrian Williamson QC therefore refused to grant the declaration sought by Lea Valley Developments, commenting that it was not possible to conclude that the appropriate measure of damages was necessarily the diminution of value of Mr Derbyshire’s flats.
Justin Mort QC acted for the Defendant.